refuge found in a memory (re-run number 3–it’s that good)

“The Lord manifests Himself to those who stop for some time in
peace and humility of heart.
If you look in murky and turbulent waters,
you cannot see the reflection of your face.
If you want to see the face of Christ,
stop and collect your thoughts in silence,
and close the door of your soul to the noise of external things.”

St. Anthony of Padua


(a statue to St.Anthony in the small chapel of St. Blasiuskirche,
Salzburg, Austria / Julie Cook / 2012)

When I first read the quote that I’ve opted to use today,
I was immediately transported to a different time and place…
and to a previous post.

It was 2012 and I had recently retired from 31 years of teaching—
I was also preparing
to embark on an arduous journey with my elderly father…
how arduous, I had no idea,
but I knew life was changing and I knew it was not going to
be for the better.

My aunt, another friend, and I had all embarked on a bit of an adventure
during that fall of 2012.
It was a wonderful trip which holds some very precious and
treasured memories…especially since my aunt is no longer with us.

Yet during that trip, there were a couple of very special moments
that have stayed near to my heart…
and one thing I’ve learned over the years,
adventures offer lessons.

And so I looked back at that original post and found
that the serenity that I had experienced
during that adventure, and later in the writing of the post,
I realized that I greatly needed to relive, as well as share, again,
that peaceful gratitude I found one quiet fall afternoon.

And so here is that post from October 2013 about a warm fall
afternoon in 2012 in Salzburg, Austria:

The deep groaning and creaking sound of the huge ancient
wooden door being pulled open echoes loudly throughout the small
yet cavernous chapel.
It must be the vaulted ceiling helping to carry the sound deep
into the hallowed room.
The burning votives cast an otherworldly glow.
There is a lingering scent of incense mixed with the musty dampness.

There is a lone figure, an older woman, kneeling at one of the front pews…
her rosary woven through her fingers, moving ever so slightly,
bead per bead as she silently makes her petitions before
the small statue.

I once heard it put that religion was just something for
old women and children.
Pity that…as that must mean that older women and children are the only ones
who “get it”…everyone else must be too vain, too prideful,
and too arrogant to truly understand.

My eyes begin to adjust to the lack of lighting as the cool air
is a welcomed feeling against the late afternoon Autumn warmth outside.
I walk slowly, quietly, reverently down the small aisle,
my hand resting on the smooth wooden end cap of each pew,
as I make my way to my seat of choice.
I kneel slightly, the genuflection of reverence,
before slipping into the pew.

I’m not Catholic but raised Anglican–yet I oddly welcome
and greatly appreciate the nuances
of ancient worship–-more than would be expected from my raising.
There is a deep mystery that I believe many in our mainstream churches miss.
This Christianity of ours is an ancient faith but that is too
sadly forgotten in this age of the technologically savvy megachurch.
The ancient components of worship seem lost on those now sitting
in stadium type seating waiting, as if ready for the latest blockbuster to begin,
to be wowed not by participation but by passive viewing.

Despite my pained attempts to muffle my movements,
each step, each rustle of my jacket, causes deep reverberations
through this ancient room,
I feel very conspicuous even though just one other person is present.
She never wavers from her intense focus to her prayerful conversation.
She is oblivious to my presence.

I take in my surroundings before dropping to my knees.
The chapel is hundreds of years old as worship here dates back to the 1200s.
Dark wood paneling with cream-colored walls.
Arched vaults line the ceiling with stone columns systematically placed,
acting as supports, creating the aisles throughout the room.
This is not one of the beautifully bright and light
Rococoesque churches of Austria that the tourists clammer to enter in order
to view famous paintings,
statues and frescos with ornate altars boasting a multitude of plaster cherubs
heralding glad tidings.
This chapel is small, dark, ancient, and humble.
Perhaps that is why I was drawn inside.

I slip down to my knees as I make the sign of the cross.
I begin my “conversation”—-it is one of thanksgiving and gratitude
as a tremendous sense
of warmth and contentment engulfs me.
I then begin my petitions—-not for myself,
but for those I love who are not with me on this particular journey.
After some time, I open my eyes.
How long had I been praying?
I rest in the moment as a tremendous sense of safety and peace washes over me–-
it is almost palpable.

Am I a tourist or a pilgrim? I like to think that when I travel,
I am a pilgrim.
I want to not merely observe, but rather, I want to partake…
I want to be a part of each moment in time.
I am not here to watch an old Austrian woman in prayer,
watching from the shadows of an ancient chapel as some sort of
voyeuristic individual
or as someone viewing animals in an enclosure,
but rather I want to pray beside her to the same God who hears
each of our prayers.
I am in communion with her even though she never glances my way.
I want to appreciate this chapel that is a part of her daily life,
wishing I too had such a special and reverent place of retreat.

The history here is so old as countless individuals previously
have gathered here to worship, to seek, to lament, to rejoice.
I slowly rise from my knees slipping out of the pew.
I make my way to the small alter to pick up a fresh votive.
I gently touch the fresh wick to one of the existing burning flames–
my hand slightly shakes.
I feel the warm heat against my cheeks rising from the candles.
I place my lit votive in an empty slot silently thanking Saint Anthony
and God for this time of communion with not only them but with
this woman who never seems to notice my presence.

I am grateful.
I slip a few coins into the small metal locked box by the door.
I make my way back outside, into the light.
It almost hurts my eyes as it is now so sunny and bright.
The sounds of the throngs of people on the streets are almost painful to my ears.
This is Oktoberfest, the streets and alleyways are teeming with a sea of people.

For a brief moment, I had a glimpse of the Divine.
I feel different for the encounter.
Changed.
Better.
Not in an arrogant sort of way but more in the way that I have been fortunate
to be privy to something so rich and so special.
I look out at all of the throngs of people reveling in this historic and exciting
city during this raucous time. I slightly smile inward thinking that I hold a special
secret that no one else knows…no one other than that older woman back in the chapel
and myself.

parents…teach your children well…so there will be no more horse’s asses

And you (Can you hear?) of tender years (And do you care?)
Can’t know the fears (And can you see?)
That your elders grew by (We must be free)
And so, please help (To teach your children)
Them with your youth (What you believe in)
They seek the truth (Make a world)
Before they can die (That we can live in)

song lyrics by Graham Nash


(The Mayor and Sheriff this past summer at the beach / Julie Cook / 2021

So we’ve all probably witnessed or read of the following tale…

And I’m probably already going viral as we speak…

So let me set the scene…

My husband and I ran into a nearby Target today as I needed to pick up
a few items.
This particular Target is larger than the one we had in our previous community.
I think they call it a super Target.

I really don’t always think bigger is better but that’s just me.

So while we were cruising up and down the various aisles, grabbing what we needed,
I heard a loud ruckus heading our way.
Loud laughter and what sounded like a basketball bouncing up and down on the floor.

What the heck???

My gaze was now fixed toward the end of the aisle as I was waiting to see
what this growing crescendo of noise was all about…

And that’s when I saw them…

5 young teens were kicking a soccer ball down, in and out, the various aisles.
Loud, pushing, shoving, laughing with one another while all acting a fool!

And that’s when it happened.

Just like a cat who bristles and puffs up at some approaching adversary,
I felt myself bowing up for a fight.

I turned my gaze toward these boys.
My eyes narrowed with a steely glare…and that’s when I felt that
familiar out of body voice ready to howl from a place from deep within…

I was in full blown honey badger teacher mode, ready to pounce.

And it only quadrupled when I saw the phone in one of the boy’s hand.
He was recording their reckless antics…
all the while, the soccer ball was kicked into a shelf full of
shaving cream cans…all of which came tumbling off the shelf,
loudly crashing to the floor.

Manager???
Can we say “MANAGER”???!!!!
Where in the world is some sort of manager????
What of parents?????
Where are the parents?????

This reminded me of my first year teaching…
it was the last day of school and the kids broke out all the
fire extinguishers while the principal locked himself in his office.
Bedlam…
And this was just that…bedlam.

The inmates were running the asylum.

They saw me seeing them–and my glare was now laser focused and
they knew it…as their laughter only grew.

This “incident” would no doubt hit their insignificant tik tok postings
showcasing just how fun it can be to go into a store and act like complete
immature horse’s ass while others look on in disgust.

So right when I was ready to spring into action, ready to snatch up some hooligans
by the scruff of their necks…
my husband’s voice broke my concentration...”Don’t even think about it!”

I felt his hand grab my shirt, nudging me in the opposite direction of the boys.
“Let’s go check out.”

He knows ‘teacher mode’ all too well.

So my thoughts today turn to parents.
I was a stupid teenager once.
I was also a parent to a teenager
I was also a high school teacher for 31 years.

Parents…please, please….teach your children well…
and if you do, no one will have to be that stupid unruly horse’s ass.

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

even the smallest is a gift

“Truth sees God, and wisdom contemplates God,
and from these two comes a third, a holy and wonderful delight in God,
who is love.”

St. Julian of Norwich


(a tree frog hanging out / Julie Cook / 2021)


(a tree frog hanging out / Julie Cook / 2021)

Our Father: at this name love is aroused in us…
and the confidence of obtaining what we are about to ask…
What would he not give to his children who ask,
since he has already granted them the gift of being his children?

St. Augustine

zen to hell and maybe one day back

“I realize as never before that the Lord is gentle and merciful;
He did not send me this heavy cross until I could bear it.
If He had sent it before,
I am certain that it would have discouraged me…
I desire nothing at all now except to love until I die of love.
I am free, I am not afraid of anything,
not even of what I used to dread most of all…
a long illness which would make me a burden to the community.
I am perfectly content to go on suffering in body and soul for years,
if that would please God.
I am not in the least afraid of living for a long time;
I am ready to go on fighting.”

St. Therese of Lisieux, p. 122
An Excerpt From
The Story of a Soul


(a lovely look at The Highlands Botanical Garden’s trail at Lindenwood Lake /
Julie Cook / 2021)

Close your eyes.
Breathe out slowly.
Feel the weight lifting…
ahhh the zen of life….HA!

Today’s image is that of a zenful moment.

And yet, there is no such thing of zen and life–
the two are simply incompatible.

We stepped away from life for a few days, headed northward about 2 hours toward
the North Carolina mountains…taking a belated anniversary get-a-way.

38 years of wedded bliss (cough cough) needed to be celebrated.
And the particular inn that we wanted to visit only had a first available
room about 2 weeks after the fact, so we took what we could get…
and thus off we went.

This escape came at a time when our nation was / is at a such a juxtaposition.
And yes, there is just oh so much to say…
so much dismay, so much pain, so much sorrow, do much disappointment, so much anger…

I looked forward to tuning out for a couple of days.
But how do you tune out the pain you feel for 13 families who just
lost their children, spouses, siblings because of a president who
is nothing but inept?

If you can do so, you have no empathy in your heart.

I am absolutely seething under the surface.
Disgrace does not speak strongly enough.

How in the world could a president have no clue?

We, the average US citizen, all knew that an attack was imminent,
we all received the notice via our various news outlets.
Heck, I received a push notification.
If I got it— if I get it…how come the President didn’t and still doesn’t?

An attack was coming and yet he sat back and basically waited.

So it appears that the deaths of those remaining service members
closing out our stay in Afghanistan could have been readily and easily avoided.
Throw in the 90 billion dollars worth of American war equipment that has been abandoned–
all of which could have been readily evacuated…
had there been a cohesive plan….but there was no such plan.

A plan.

As a longtime educator, I totally get the concept of a cohesive plan.
I know all too well that how you finish is just as important as how you begin.
And yet sadly this administration does not comprehend such.

Stand down from a lengthy occupation…stand down from being in a place
much longer than we ever should have been…yes, by all means, stand down…
but to stand down without precision, order, or a well calculated plan…
well even we simpletons, call that pure negligence.

So off we went Saturday on our little trip all the while Afghanistan
swirled within both our thoughts… a sick heaviness lingered in the pit
of my stomach.
13 American service men and women were killed needlessly.
ABSOLUTLEY NEEDLESSLY!!

Add to this the hundreds of Americans, their Afghani partners, US babies,
and US military service dogs who are all now stuck behind enemy lines…
Yes– left stranded, Jen Psaki…as in stuck in harms way…no thanks to
our President.

Yep, we little people actually comprehend this notion…we call that stranded.
You can’t sugarcoat stranded.

And you can’t sugarcoat what will happen to those left behind.
Think torture, abuse and twisted delight in the demise of any
human or animal associated with the Americans…
but we don’t like to think about such…we don’t like the uncomfortable…
we don’t like that which makes us feel out of sorts.

Explain being out of sorts and uncomfortable to the families of those
Americans who are now hurting today over tremendous loss.

I will be the first to tell you that I agree with the fact that the
length of time we have spent in Afghanistan has been well past its prime.
Pulling out certainly needed to be, however, the manner in which we pulled out
should have been paramount.

Start strong, end strong.

Oh there’s just so much to chat about isn’t there?
However, today, time does not permit those lengthy sort of conversations.

We’ll look at masks, mandates and Covid dilemmas tomorrow.

And of course we’re coming up on 9-11…
so much to say, so little time.

Stand up my friends.
Time is not on our side.

entrust them…so so hard

Raising children is an uncertain thing;
success is reached only after a life of battle and worry.

Democritus


(the children / Rosemary Beach /Julie Cook 2021)

“Avoid worrying, then, about anything else for your children except
whatever may contribute to bringing them up virtuously.
For the rest, having entrusted them to God,
try to see what His will for them is,
to help them along the path in life He has chosen for them.
Never be afraid of relying too much on Him,
but rather seek always to increase your trust more and more,
for this is the most pleasing homage you can pay Him and it will be
the measure of the graces you will receive.
Little or much will be given you according as you have expected little or much.”

St. Claude De La Columbiere, p.46
An Excerpt From
Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence

The art of how to or how not…

The God of all mercy teaches us that our vocation is to learn to love
and also to be able to love after the image and in imitation
of the Most Holy Trinity.
Christ, therefore, is situated at the heart of marital and family life,
in other words, at the heart of the gestures and the attitudes of
the husband toward his wife, and vice versa,
of the father and the mother of the family toward their children—
which you seek to put into practice in trust and in truth.

Robert Cardinal Sarah
From his book Couples, Awaken Your Love!


(the Mayor struggling with the art of the fondue / Julie Cook / 2021)

In yesterday’s post, I noted that I had not kept up with the news during our
small family’s recent little getaway.
A smart and delightful choice I might add.

And thus, upon our return home, I foolishly thought that I needed to play
a bit of catch-up.

So of course there was the story about the plane full of smug, arrogant
and really stupid Democrats who thought they were running away from Texas,
setting their sights on being liberated in Washington D.C.

But what it really was…was a plane full of super-spreaders of Covid.
So why do we vote for such people…??
I digress.

And then there was and is the continuing migrant story…
but where do we start with that one???
Covid, welfare, gangs, sex trafficking, drugs…
Simply not enough time.

Then there was the typical story of hostility in The House between
Dems and Republicans.
A bipartisan panel to look into that House infiltration fiasco…
HA..bipartisan…that’s a good one!
But what’s new???

And of course there was the story about Dr. Fauci proclaiming that we
all need to mask up again…vaccine or not.
But maybe it’s more about the haves and the have nots.

Yet Dr. Fauci now wants us to mask our toddlers…
wee ones who will be heading to pre-school and or daycare.
So hear me now as I channel my best Charlton Heston voice…
NOT ON MY WATCH–NOT MY GRANDCHILDREN!
And no, NO SHOTS for toddlers.
We simply don’t know enough.
Perhaps that shall be one of my many mountains to perish upon.

And once again, there was the continuing story about CRT.
That idiotic ideology which I referenced yesterday.
How to teach about not being a racist…
Lets set people apart, teach them about shame, teach them about resentment,
teach them about angst and anger—those are some really powerful
kumbiya thoughts…right????
Eyes rolling.

And now there’s this latest story about the White House promoting the
Abolitionist Teaching Network whose desire is to “disrupt whiteness”…

What in the heck is that all about???

So let me backup to where we really need to be with this whole
education thing.

If you want to go backwards, which it seems the woke folks are bent on…
let’s go back to what actually worked back in the beginning…

God.
Prayer.
The Ten Commandments.
Faith.
Family.

That pretty much covers all of this lunacy in a nutshell!
Go back to those particular key components and all this fiasco will
finally be righted.

Righted only if those 5 things fall back into their original place…
then and only then will we ever have some sense of normalcy and peace….
otherwise it’s Katie bar the door—
all Hell is about to break loose and I mean hell with a big H…
as in literally.

Love, by its essence, involves a leap into the unknown, a death to oneself,
because genuine love is a love that loves to the end.
And to love to the end means to die for those whom you love.

Robert Cardinal Sarah
From his book Couples, Awaken Your Love!

one child is home and one child is now well

Children learn more from what you are, than what you teach.
W.E.B. Du Bois


(donning part of her brother’s soon to be halloween costume, the Mayor returns home)


(The sheriff intent on his duties)

I believe that if an angel were to wing his way from earth up to Heaven,
and were to say that there was one poor, ragged boy, without father or mother,
with no one to care for him and teach him the way of life;
and if God were to ask who among them were willing to come down to
this earth and live here for fifty years and lead that one to Jesus Christ,
every angel in Heaven would volunteer to go.
Even Gabriel, who stands in the presence of the Almighty,
would say, “Let me leave my high and lofty position,
and let me have the luxury of leading one soul to Jesus Christ.”
There is no greater honour than to be the instrument in God’s hands of
leading one person out of the kingdom of Satan into the glorious
light of Heaven.

Dwight L. Moody

bubbles and butter

Children are a great comfort to us in our old age,
and they help us reach it faster too.

John Ruskin


(the Mayor is busy)

Hanging out, still waiting for the all-clear to go home, the Mayor in her mayorial
time of waiting, has proclaimed that bubbles and butter are probably the most
important components to one’s day…
sidewalk chalk and tossing balls are also right on up there.


(the Mayor’s tribute to The Sherrif)


(the Mayor wakes up to immediately go outside to play ball in her PJs)

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones.
For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 8:10

mad I say… so made I could spit

“Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do.
Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom.
I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic:
I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination.”

G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy


(a vintage 1960 Humpty Dumpty stuffed animal via ebay)

When I was growing up, rather than actually curse, my dad would always say “spit”
or “I’m so mad I could spit”

As a youngster, I certainly didn’t know spit was a substitute for a “bad” word and
I always wondered how mad one needed to be in order to spit.

And despite being a tomboy, I was too lady-like to ever spit!

But all these years later, I get it.
And like my dad, I’m so mad right now, I could spit”!!!

You see that picture of a vintage 1960 Humpty Dumpty?
Well, I had one just like it.

Actually, I had several– as my Humpties were each loved to death.
The last one consisted of just the beige insert, the Humpty exterior had long since
worn away…Humpty was with me from the time my parents brought me
home from the adoption agency to the time I got married.
There may have been two total as my mom did her best sowing and patching
the worn love.

My last Humpty has lived in a box at the top of the closest now for nearly 40 years—
add 20 more to his age, and we have an antique beige lump in a box.

But that beige lump absorbed more tears over the years and sadly a few angry
pulls and punches than anything or anyone ever close to me.

He was my constant companion and dearest confidant.

The Mayor is becoming a lot like me in that regard.

She has about 4 or 5 who are bed partners, soul soothers, and best friends.

Here we see a not so gentile sleeper with two stalwart sleeping buddies…
Bobobo (aka Vamparina) and Sky from Paw Patrol–missing is BeBe
(a tiny rabbit rattle, Big Bebe, a stuffed fawn along with Chase the Police Dog
from Paw Patrol.

If you aren’t familiar with Paw Patrol—it’s a cartoon on Nick Jr.
A cartoon that The Mayor and Sherrif both love.

According to its on-line information page, the show is about:
A group of six rescue dogs, led by a tech-savvy boy named Ryder,
has adventures in “PAW Patrol.”
The heroic pups, who believe “no job is too big, no pup is too small,”
work together to protect the community.
Among the members of the group are firedog Marshall, police pup Chase,
and fearless Skye.
All of the animals have special skills, gadgets, and vehicles that help them
on their rescue missions.
Whether rescuing a kitten or saving a train from a rockslide,
the PAW Patrol is always up for the challenge while also making sure
there’s time for a game or a laugh.

You can see Sky is sleeping by the Mayor’s side, but Chase is her favorite…
a police dog German Shepherd pup.

Here we see the day Chase came home to the Mayor and Sherrif from the store:

So I now want to know why a young child’s cartoon show, that first aired in 2013, has
now come under scrutiny and into the crosshairs of the cancel culture??!!

Could it be that there is a “police” dog on the show???

There is a builder safety dog, a fireman dog, a water safety dog, an air safety dog
a road safety dog and of course the police dog.

Yet according to an article on Fox News, here is a quote from a twitter troll
regarding the police character dog on this tiny tot cartoon:

“Euthanize the police dog,” one user said.
Others wrote “defund the paw patrol” and “All dogs go to heaven,
except the class traitors in the Paw Patrol.”

Other’s noted
“As the protests against racist police violence enter their third week,
the charges are mounting against fictional cops, too.
Even big-hearted cartoon police dogs —
or maybe especially big-hearted cartoon police dogs —
are on notice,” Amanda Hess wrote.

“The effort to publicize police brutality also means banishing
the good-cop archetype, which reigns on both television and in viral videos
of the protests themselves,” she continued.
“‘Paw Patrol’ seems harmless enough, and that’s the point:
The movement rests on understanding that cops do plenty of harm.”

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/paw-patrol-denies-canceled-mcenany-white-house-briefing

The rumor circling on-line is that that Nickeloden has canceled the show
but is now denying such actions.

But the mere fact that idiotic adults are out there attacking a cute cartoon geared
toward our smallest members of our community of humankind has left me oh so mad.

So mad that I could spit!

I would think that we as a communtiy would want our young children to see our first
responders being portrayed in positive roles.
Roles of helpers, rescuers, and those who help us when bad things happen.

We want our kids to trust them if ever the need should arise that they must
step in when we can’t help our kids.

For crying outloud—when will enough be enough???

Maybe when they burn down Portland?
Maybe when our Democracy is traded in for pure anarchy.
Maybe when we all die during a pandemic
Maybe when Jesus comes back.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed,
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

I’m trying Lord, I’m trying…..

How can you mend a broken heart…

And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?

Song Lyrics, Robin and Barry Gibbs (the Bee Gees)


(The Mayor itching to get in the rain / Julie Cook / 2020)

These are pictures of The Mayor itching to get out into the rain
What is it that draws kids to the water…itching to get out into the rain???

Well, we had to take the Mayor back home yesterday and naturally, it broke my heart.
It always breaks my heart to take her home.
She was adamant that she did not want to go home.
I suspect that it had a great deal to do with the fact that she did not
want to go home because she knew that the new daycare was in her future, once again.
Funny that a 2 and half-year-old knows what the cards have in store.

And naturally, it breaks my heart that I can’t just keep her 24/7.

I can’t tell you how much I love those kids–The Mayor and her brother, the Sheriff.

And so I think about how much we love our children and our grandchildren…
and yet I think about what just happened in Georgia–

The Georgia House bill—the Abortion Bill 481–aka the Georgia Heartbeat bill,
was unsurprisingly ruled unconstitutionally this week.

A heartbreaking ruling…

Children are our future, our hope, our love…not some sort of commodity that can
easily tossed aside on some sort of whim…

Life is not a mere whim…

https://www.wsbtv.com/news/georgia/federal-judge-says-georgias-heartbeat-abortion-bill-is-unconstitutional/X6N3AMLHRJCORN424DJK672ZYA/

There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.

Proverbs 6:16-19